The Abington Police Department remains committed to the safety of the citizens of Abington, and the protection of the rights of all, including those whom it is our duty to aid in receiving evaluation and treatment from mental health professionals. The citizen to whom I refer has not been charged with a crime, and we will not be releasing his name. As I mentioned last week, this Township resident was evaluated pursuant to procedures outlined in the Mental Health Procedures Act, with the full cooperation and assistance of the Abington Township Police Department. While that evaluation was being undertaken, our Detective Unit continued its investigation of information relayed by several of this young man’s friends, along with information developed through the execution of search warrants at his home. That investigation yielded additional information which was turned over to mental health professionals, the FBI and Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, for their consideration and evaluation. Although this investigation continues, there are no criminal charges pending at this time.
Section 303 of the Mental Health Procedures Act provides for a hearing to determine if an involuntary commitment, for up to an additional twenty days, is appropriate. The procedures for the entire process may be found in the Act. While the Police Department provides information for consideration, the decision regarding additional involuntary commitment rests solely with the hearing officer, not the police. We respect and appreciate the difficult decision that has to be made, as this Department was faced with a similar balancing of the safety of the public, with the rights of the individual. It is hoped that this young man receives any treatment he needs, now, and follows up on recommendations for treatment and/or counseling, if any, when he is released. We will continue to respect his privacy in this regard. At the direction of the Montgomery County Solicitor’s Office, we will have no further comment on the content or outcome of the hearing.
We of course will continue to concern ourselves with the safety of the entire Abington community, which is understandably on edge given the events of the last week. This young man’s weapon remains in the custody of the Abington Police Department. We did not take this step lightly, but rather, after consultation with the District Attorney’s Office and, more recently, the FBI. We are confident that this weapon should not be, and will not be, returned at this time. Further, under the Mental Health Procedures Act and the Uniform Firearms Act, an individual who has been certified as requiring inpatient care may not possess or purchase firearms.
Finally, let me address, just briefly, some of the concerns posted by individuals, who do not have all of the information required to offer an informed opinion regarding this Police Department’s stance regarding “open carry” and our decision to request a 302 Involuntary Commitment. “Open Carry” is the law of the Commonwealth, and we will continue to respect the law and the constitutional rights of all of our citizens. We cannot, and will not, take citizens into custody merely for exercising their constitutional right to bear arms. We have no desire to do so, no right to do so, and we did not do so, here. On the other hand, when the totality of the circumstances leads us to believe that this community’s safety could possibly be in jeopardy or a young man is troubled and/or in need of assistance, we cannot, and will not sit idly by. This, the constitution does not require, and our oath office will not allow.
For questions or concerns please contact our Detective Division at 267-536-1113.
Note: CRIMINAL CHARGES, AND ANY DISCUSSION THEREOF, ARE MERELY ALLEGATIONS AND ALL DEFENDANTS ARE PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL AND UNLESS PROVEN GUILTY
Approved for Release by:
Chief Patrick Molloy